Often described as one of the toughest bike races in the lower 48 states, the Arrowhead 135 challenges even the most prepared riders. This is a journal by a non-athlete's participation in an event where starting is often just as much a challenge as finishing.

Getting into crunch time
December 20, 2011
My first try at fitting the cleat to the boot didn't work out perfectly. After last week's efforts I went out for a test ride, and realized pretty quickly that the cleat position was wrong - it was too far forward. I was pedaling with my toes, and I could feel it in my calves. This would be a disaster in the race.

I did some additional research, and found some good information on finding the right position. After looking at the boot, and finding where inside my foot fits, the result was the cleat needed to move roughly an inch back. Yeah, I know. The reality is that I should have done the additional research *before* I drilled holes in the bottom of my boots in the first place. However, I would have rather had to move them an inch versus something small like 1/4 or so. The holes were far enough apart that I'm not too worried about weakening the bottom of the boot. So I removed the cleats, marked, cut more of the tread, drilled new holes and refit everything.

Another short test ride and the strokes feel a lot better - a lot more like my "normal" pedaling. So for now I'll leave them be. What is really going to be required is a couple of long rides to see how my feet and legs react. The position, being slightly off center, is still noticeable. I want some time to get used to it and see if there is any pain.

My rides this week were ok. It was kind of a soggy week, but a bit of rain is better than snow. I did almost get right-hooked riding home from work in the dark and rain, but I kind of saw it coming. And thank the mechanical engineers for disk brakes.

There is still no snow, so that is good for me. Lots of people like snow for christmas, but as far as I'm concerned they can keep it. I'm not worried about the lack of snow for the Arrowhead, it's pretty unlikely that it would be snow-free there. The longer it holds off down here, however, the more I can ride outside and the better my training options are.

The lack of snow sent be back to the river bottoms again for a long training ride, almost 5 hours. Ice in a few spots, but mostly dirt now. Ran into a couple other guys I know that are training for the Arrowhead as well. The trail is pretty fast because its packed and frozen. I could see where someone on a cross bike was riding when it was too soft from last week's rain - nicely frozen, deep ruts zig-zagging across the trail. Jerk.

My video efforts are failing. I brought the GoPro camera along, and set it up for a few shots. Getting home, I saw that I had a nice splotch of crud on the lens. Sigh. That is a couple of times I've lost footage because of a dirty lens. You'd think I'd have learned that by now. Speaking of the GoPro, I also did a DIY mod with a fiber optic so I could see the little light from behind. Not sure if in practice it will be worth it or not. I wanted to be able to turn on the camera while I'm moving and while its mounted on my handlebars, and have some idea of what it is doing. It might be messing up the already poor exposure control. I'm learning that this camera has a certain type of shot/lighting that it thrives in, the rest is kind of marginal.

This frustration with both my shooting and the camera's limitations lead me to get more organized about the video I'd like to assemble. I basically just started making a list of shots I think would work, and the order, and the amount of time for each segment. I once informally shot photos for a friend's wedding - I was asked on the day of to "take a few snap shots" because they didn't hire a pro. My wife and I took 15 minutes and made a list of everything we thought I should try to get, and it was pretty successful as a result. In the same vein, I have been shooting all of this video on training rides with no real idea how I might assemble it. And I'm getting frustrated at messing up these shots I don't even know if they are shots I'm going to want or need. After taking an hour to make the shot list and timing the video out, I have a lot better idea of what I want in the end, and how I might use what I already have. Scripts are handy tools...

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